GRANGER at Halloween for 10/26/16: THE TEAR IN THE WRAPPER

Truth in advertising“, it read.

Image result for coffee and Autumn

Granger was fed up with the glut of political flyers in his mailbox and inboxes.  Tossing on his desk the garishly colored hit piece in yoga pants by a former state senator, he swung around and gazed unfocused out the window at a grayish, cotton-streaked sky with bruise-blue accents.  Chuffing through his nose, he thought, “Even the sky’s puzzled by it all.”

Bemused, he reached for his “Coffee Made Me Do It” mug.  Just before he got it to his mouth, he noticed the “fun-size” Butterfinger laying on his desk; it had been hidden by the big black mug.  Glancing over at the glass bowl full of assorted Halloween-sized candy, he saw many other bars identical to the one huddled behind his coffee.  You won’t get away from me-e-e . . .

Image result for fun-size Butterfinger

Amused at the desire-borne moisture in his mouth, he glommed onto the familiar yellow-orange-gold wrapper.  Granger actually licked his lips as he tore the wrapper lengthwise.

Opening the wrapper, he grimaced in disgust.  Really?  Instead of the neat, compact one-by-two-inch chocolate-covered nougat he expected to find, a sharded mess of odd-shaped pieces had fallen onto his black crew-neck tee and khaki pants.

Irritated, he started to grouse about something more to clean up when he suddenly got quiet.

I know people like that, he reasoned.  Brightly packaged, looking like others in The Bowl, like they’ve got it all together–until the wrapper comes off.  Unwrapped, they’re a ragged, jagged collection of misshapen pieces just waiting to fall all over the place.

Yeah, I know people like that.  I’ve been like that.

Image result for people wearing I'm fine masks

As these thoughts jostled each other in his mind, he glanced again at the phrase off the discarded voting flyer:  “Truth In Advertising”.

Image result for people wearing I'm fine masks gif

Granger’s eyes blurred and his voice thickened as he spoke aloud, a habit of those who spend most of their time alone.  “Oh, yeah.  Many’s the time that, had my wrapper torn, all my hidden insecurities, my personal misgivings, self-doubt, all those questions about myself would be laying all over in a huge, untidy mess just like–here he made a rueful face as he surveyed the slightly-sticky, sweet mess he’d dumped on his clothes– “my ill-fated little candy bar buddy, may it rest in pieces.”

Image result for Community Golden Caramel coffee

Later, wearing a comfortable black-and-red shirt with the sleeves rolled half up and a soft pair of old jeans, he stood with mug in left hand and coffee carafe in right, thinking about the recent experience.  Shaking his head as if to wake up, Granger poured a fresh, fragrant cup of Community Golden Caramel, returned to his desk chair and sat pondering.

Is it wrong to present a public appearance that’s attractive, appropriate to one’s task?  Does that not reflect good self-image and -respect?

Is it deceptive to present an outward persona that’s positive and uplifting, even when one’s interior landscape more resembles a barren wasteland?  As a Christ-follower, isn’t being winsome and attractive kind of necessary?

Sipping thoughtfully at the semi-sweet, smooth coffee, he answered his own question.

Deception is willful.  Wearing a mask is intended to hide, to frustrate and conceal.  If those are the reasons for the wrapper, then the advertising is dishonest and disingenuous.

Image result for Christ Like spirit despite internal pain

Image result for Christ Like spirit despite internal pain

If one’s desire is to be a consistent positive, encouraging and Christlike witness to one’s own world, then God can be trusted to know how to tenderly deal with the internal brokenness.  To fit the nonfitting.  To create beauty and symmetry just as perfectly as He did at The Original Event.

Rising to refill his mug, Granger thoughtfully nabbed another of the sweet, chocolaty morsels from the Halloween bowl.  Grinning as he softly checked that this one was whole, he admitted to himself, I don’t have this here “for the kids” since none ever come up here.  I have this here for me.  And I’m lovin’ it!

Butterfinger?

© D. Dean Boone, October 2016

 

Categories: Encouragement, Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, 9/10/18: COFFEEOLOGY – STAY GROUNDED

Riding the breeze, the slip of paper whisked within inches of Granger’s nose, causing him to flinch.

I know what you’re thinking.  “Bet he slopped a little of his coffee, too, huh?”  You think you’re so-o-o smart…

He frowned as he stooped to pick it up, then smiled at himself, huffing through his nose as he looked around for something to set his coffee cup on.  He needed to rub where the hot Kona blend said GOOD MORNING to his thumb.  Possibilities didn’t exactly abound.  Browning Drive was on his left, a vacant, weed-choked field to his right, with an abandoned factory over behind it.

A cement-filled metal post with a steel ring welded at the top stood next to a driveway entrance to nowhere.  It marked where an access road must have led to parking for the old factory, and Granger’s somewhat-OCD mind made his eyes flick to the right to find the scarred, yellow-and-rust post’s mate.

At first he saw nothing.  Setting his cream-colored coffee mug atop the flat top of the remaining post, Granger stepped over to the other side of the cracked and crumbling cement driveway entrance.  There it was.  Well, at least the base of the other post was still firmly stuck in the concrete with five or six inches of the metal casing protruding above ground.

Musing, he retrieved his coffee then retraced his steps.  He’d been sitting through two Pandora ads, his practical side fencing with his creative side in choosing how to address the second in a “Coffeeology” series for his blog.  Frustrated, he’d grabbed his cup, refilled it, and just got out of the house.  Taking a walk often jiggles my creative juices.  I won’t be gone long, and don’ need no steeenkeeng travel mug.

Standing there, staring down at the bottom of that old broken post, the ideas began to flow.  A city bus slowed, the driver wondering what the silver-haired gent in the red-and-black checked down vest was doing, staring at seemingly nothing but weeds.  Rousing from his reverie, Granger glanced up, grinned and waved, and abruptly turned to head back to his computer.

Unlocking and re-entering his home office, he brushed past Biff, who long since had grown used to his human’s weird comings and goings.  Drawing in a noisy, long, dismissive breath, the tawny square-nozzled shar pei expelled it in a sudden, jowl-flapping rush.  Granger stopped just long enough to dump the last of his cold coffee and replace it.  He then headed into his office, settled down before his trusty laptop and began once again to type . . .

“COFFEEOLOGY #2:  STAY GROUNDED

“Change, the passing of Time, is a part of life.  Experiences flush like quail, seeming to be ‘forever’ things before they, too, diminish and eventually disappear in the reality and necessity of Now.  If one ties to the experiences themselves, disappointment and even grief often follows.

“Let me explain.

“I was walking this morning.  Along the sidewalk I followed, there was a city street on my left and a vacant, weed-overgrown field once a factory parking lot on my right.  I noticed a concrete driveway entrance to the old lot, marked on the left side by an old metal post that looked like it once held a chain.  I did what you’d do:  I glanced over to see where the other one was.

“It wasn’t.  Well, the noticeable, above-ground part wasn’t.  When I walked over to look closer, I could see the bottom of that old post.  It was still firmly set in the concrete base where it’d originally been placed.  There was even five or six inches of the metal post sticking up to show me where it had been.  At some point, a truck had misjudged the entrance’s clearance and run into the right-hand post, breaking it off.  The foundation was right where it should have been; but the surface part was gone.

“Think about the last time you revisited somewhere you once lived as a kid.  Remember how many times you either thought or said out loud, “I remember what used to be there”?

“Life’s like that.  I know you remember the story we learned in Sunday School about the guy who built his house on sand.  Hey.  All those folks in Charleston and along the east coast prepping for Florence can tell you:  even building on the strongest possible foundations, sand just doesn’t cut it when storms hit.

“I’m 66 in 20 more days.  Looking back, I can see a lot of things and people that have been forever changed.  I can remember, sometimes even see where they were, because the foundations remain – unless someone came along and tore them up to build someone or something else.

“Today’s bit of Coffeeology is some of God’s finest advice:  STAY GROUNDED.  By all means, soar in response to the dreams He’s placed within you.  Imagine!  Defy the Mamas and The Papas:  don’t merely dream a little dream.  Dream a big one!  Make it worthy of the Time you invest in it, and let it’s scope and reach scare you a little!  Let it stretch you and draw you out of who and what you’ve been, into who and what God’s thrilled to make of you!

“Just stay grounded as you do.  A solid piece of Scripture comes to mind:  “. . . for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” 2 Timothy 1:7 Things and people can look pretty strong and impressive on the surface.  They can even be intimidating.  I’ve found if I’m ‘surfing’ through my day, observing it all from my surface vantage point, it’s easy to mistake fluff and froth for substance.  It’s easy to be troubled, saddened, even fearful because of the way everything looks.

“Staying grounded means to take the second or third look.  To check under the hood.  To read a little fine print.  To follow your gut and take nothing for granted.  To be willing to listen to wise counsel and apt advice.

Stay grounded, my friends.  STAY GROUNDED.”

Granger sat back, idly ruffling his hand through the thick ruff of Biff’s neck where he’d conveniently positioned it beside the desk chair.  That’s when he remembered the crumpled bit of paper that had started it all by barely grazing his nose.

Reaching into the pocket of his down vest, he pulled it out.  It read, “I don’t know what the hell my heart beats for, but it isn’t you.  Not any more.”  Granger scanned it.  It was written in a teen’s feminine scrawl, on a torn piece of notebook paper.

He sat back in his chair, sipped some coffee, and thought about some of his own teenage crushes.  Gently smiling at the memories and how desperately foolish he’d been.  He mulled over how, in the age of Facebook and Twitter, this girl resorted to a medium used by her grandparents to broadcast her disgust at the sub-par young male in question.  Granger sat quietly for a few moments, remembering his own solemn teenage attempts to be a gentleman while yet wanting to make his intentions and attentions known.  He remembered every girl he’d been sweet on, the passing interests and the ones that went ‘PING’ right down to his heart’s basement . . .

He glanced back at the offending note.  Huh.  Unsigned.  I guess the two of them knew whose writing it was.  Well, whoever you are, my young unknowns, the sooner you learn to stay grounded, the better things will go for you.  I wish you both long life, a real love, and that you find God while you’re young.

Sighing, Granger recrumpled the note, tossing it into his garbage can.  He then did something he’d been doing for decades:  he stopped everything else he’d been doing, and prayed for the young man and young woman into whose lives he’d been invited by a Fall gust.

© D. Dean Boone, September 2018

 

 

 

Categories: Common Sense, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, 9/6/18: WHAT’S THIS DOING HAIR? or A BRIDGE TOO FUR

A MESSAGE TO OUR PETS

 Dear Furballs and Fuzzfaces,

The dishes with the paw prints, often strangely found in the middle of the kitchen floor, are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate of food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.  Sitting and staring wistfully at me with doggy eyes, or using your tail as a furry napkin while I’m attempting to eat will never alter that fact.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack.  There are only two directions available:  up or down.  Beating me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn’t help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king-sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep, while humans cannot. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space is nothing but pet-ty sarcasm. I can assure you, all such efforts are lost on me.  The more exhausted I am, the less amusing it is.

For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open.  Sitting just beyond the door and shaking your jowls, jingling your collar in the process, to remind me of your vigilance is neither appreciated nor necessary.  I must exit through the same door I entered.  I have been using the bathroom by myself for years – canine or feline attendance is not mandatory. 

That is all.

Regards,

Your Owner   (credit to Mikeysfunnies.com, with editorial frosting)

© D. Dean Boone, September 2018

Categories: Humor - Lighten Up | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, 9/4/18: COFFEEOLOGY ~ ESPRESSO YOURSELF

Words are like keys. If you choose the right ones, they can open any heart and shut any mouth.

Ever sat in one of your favorite coffee shops or restaurants, minding your own business?  Perhaps enjoying a great cup of joe and reading, or sitting with a blank notepad while freethinking?  Maybe even staring off into Middle Space, daydreaming?

You know how frustrating it is when the inevitable happens:  a conversation from an adjoining table mugs your pleasant peace of mind, causing you to want to offer in return a piece of yours.  And isn’t it odd?  That conversation isn’t low-keyed or gentle.  The volume seems to bully the sacred airspace encircling your spirit, all but forcing its attention on you like that oily-haired neighbor’s teenage Legend-In-His-Own-Mind constantly leering at anything passing by with a remote resemblance to feminine gender.

Your ears sharpen.  Something one of them says reminds you of a similar experience.  At the very least, one or the other is constantly talking over the other, indulging in the control-driven, self-absorbed habit of finishing (or trying to finish) the other’s sentences.

Or one resorts to the eventual reserve of all such orations:  he or she gets dirty.  Crudely, intentionally coarse.  Filthy.  Profane.  Every third or fourth word refers to this or that sex act.  Humorous derision morphs into stinky, ugly epithets that once earned at least a fast smack in the mouth, and at most being decked and left to awaken later.

Your ears are rose-tinged and looking and perhaps even sounding a little like those funny-looking steam release valves on a pressure cooker.  You’re locked and loaded, fully prepped to read to the offenders from The Book.

Necessary?  Yes.  Yet in the right way.

This morning’s news cycle reveals our cherished bastions of American university training are allowing students to cite their refusal to read literary classics because they were written by Caucasian old white men.  Chaucer.  Spenser.  Shakespeare.  Wordsworth.  Longfellow.  Forget the great thinkers and orators of Greece and Rome.  Proclaiming freedom from racism, these ‘students’ have become the most virulent strain of racist imaginable.  Proclaiming themselves the Universal center, they proudly strut before cameras and mics during class time, telling in slangish, putridly profane terms, how anyone unlike them cannot have any value and whose words will be ignored and shouted down while physically degrading any who dare to present a divergent view.

In other words, liberal lightweights posing as professors, themselves sounding more like strident, egoistic, jealous, vengeful 7th-graders than university educators are letting the half-grown animals take over the zoo.

And that, friend, is the smelly petrie dish from which the conversationalists at the next table have been grown.

Yes.  Espresso yourself.  Just do it with wisdom and patience, for you will be speaking in proper English when they’ll be listening through a filter of the bastardized mishmash of Americanese passing for communication in their world.

If you dare, say something like, “Excuse me, but it was difficult not to overhear your discussion.  May I join you for a few moments, and would you like a refill?”  They’re going to do owl-eyes, for they’ve already ID’d you as ‘One Of Those’.  But who turns down a free latte?  There’s a sucker born every minute, right?

You’ll be tempted to sink into the rhetorical slag and cloying, greenish bayou of their level of speech.

Don’t.

You’ll be tempted to raise your voice from Voice of Reason to T-Rex Breath to attempt to keep up with them.

Don’t.  If necessary, gently disengage with, “I’m sorry.  I had the impression you were interested in an honest dialog.  My bad.  Please excuse me – enjoy your coffee.”  Then leave, even if one calls after you.  Tossing pearls and all that.  The next time one of them happens across you, or someone like you, they’ll be more apt to listen more than talk.

They need to hear someone who looks a lot like them articulate exactly what you believe and why you believe it, without calling them names or calling into question their ancestry.  They need to observe a humanoid biped resembling them both, speaking coherently while presenting a differing point of view – and doing so while honoring their viewpoints and being willing to listen well enough to repeat those points back to them.

It is not necessary for us to agree.  It is absolutely vital we make the effort and take time to listen to each other long enough to discern the real feelings from regurgitated talking points – and sufficiently enough to understand where lie our honest differences of policy and opinion.  It’s imperative we stop allowing individual opinions to redact Truth.

“Dan, it’s just easier to keep quiet, though, isn’t it?”

It might be immediately easier.  In the long run, you’re only delaying the inevitable, kicking the convo down the street, if you will.  You’re also continuing to feed your own reticence to take a reasoned, polite, titanium-backboned stand for Being Decent In Public 101.  They need to see and hear that somewhere, for they certainly are not getting it in return for the bloated, obscene amounts of money they (or someone) will have paid for their ‘education’.

I often free-write.  It’s amazing what unrolls from my thoughts that have had all night to run free.  Yeah.  Free Range Ideas.  I’m adding this from a couple of weeks ago to show how face-scrunching and irritating it is to be enjoying great coffee and a great book and have someone’s nasally-resonant conversation, either in person or on the phone, jaggedly intrude.

“. . . Things come tromping through the memory like unplanned-for backwoods in-laws, plopping their baggage down in the middle of your peace in a roiling, sneezy cloud of dust.” 

Yeah.  You’ve had it happen.  Somebody standing behind you in Walmart, prodding your backside and Achilles tendon with their cart, oblivious to Earth as they raucously blab with someone named Arch in Tallahassee.  St. Louis would at least make a little sense. 

Take a breath.  Marshal your thoughts.  Consider the times you’ve unwittingly done that to someone else.

Then do it.  Espresso yourself.

I’m just guessing here, but I suspect you’ll receive more than one grateful glance from others needing the empowerment to do the same thing.

What?  Arch?  Oh, you’ll get it.

© D. Dean Boone, September 2018

Categories: Common Sense, Encouragement, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup of Coffee for 8/27/18: OH, YEAH, YOU CAN TOO!

“I can’t do it.”

Granger looked up from where he was using Gorilla Superglue to reattach part of the sole of his right Skecher.  “You can’t do what?”

“I don’t have the spiritual intensity, or maturity, or, or–what’s that old word for, uh, healing?”

“You mean ‘unction’?”

“Yeah.  Stuff like that.  I guess I’m just not Godly enough to make it all work or something.”

Granger slipped a thick rubber band around the brown lace-up shoe that was one of his favorites.  He was careful not to get any of the glue on the leather, made sure the band was tight, then laid it up on a shelf to cure.  Walking over to his sink, he washed his hands, then turned and leaned against the counter as he dried his hands on the red-and-white checked kitchen towel.

“What are you trying to make work?”  Sparks shrugged, a hurt and baffled look on his rugged face.

“You know, all of it.  I’m getting along great, then something trips me up and I feel like a total flop in serving God and being a consistent Christian.  You’re always writing about being a spiritual warrior?  Well, here of late I feel mostly like a Cub Scout.  I just can’t seem to DO it so it lasts!”

Granger lifted his “NOT TODAY, SATAN” coffee mug, grimacing as he sipped now-tepid coffee.  Setting the cream and gold mug back on the counter, he eyed his younger friend.  “Of course you can’t.”  Eyeing Sparks, Granger grinned slightly at the deputy’s sudden frown.  He continued.

“None of us can by ourselves, nor were we ever intended to.  Let me share a couple of favorite Bible verses with you.”  Walking over to his mahogany dining table, Granger picked up the Bible laying there.  As he walked back, he riffled through the pages, locating what he wanted to read.

“Here we go.  The first one is found in Isaiah 54:17:

But no instrument forged against you will be allowed to hurt you,
and no voice raised to condemn you will successfully prosecute you.
It’s that simple; this is how it will be for the servants of the Eternal;
I will vindicate them. – Isaiah 54:17 The Voice (VOICE)

Granger glanced up over his readers.  “You catch that?  Who said that last statement?”

“God.”  Granger nodded.  “Lemme read you another one.”  The back of his blue-and-grey light flannel shirt scruffed as he moved to scratch his back on the counter edge.

The truth is that, although of course we lead normal human lives, the battle we are fighting is on the spiritual level.  The very weapons we use are not those of human warfare but powerful in God’s warfare for the destruction of the enemy’s strongholds.2 Corinthians 10:4, Phillips.

Granger closed the Bible and laid it beside him on the counter beside his coffee mug.

“So what’d that say was the purpose for these God-weapons?”

“Destruction.”

“Of what?”

Sparks scrinched his face as he thought.  “I think you said ‘strongholds’.”  Granger enthusiastically nodded, lifting his eyebrows.

“In other words, my LE friend, God’s flat telling you that ‘thing’ that’s defeating you that you can’t seem to whip?  Overcome?  Stomp?  IT.  AIN’T.  BIBLICAL.  Sparks, nowhere in the Bible does God say, “Well, except for THAT one, ’cause it’s too tough for Me.  Just nope.”

Collecting his helmet and gloves, the lawman stood thinking for a minute as he drained the last Kona blend from his coffee cup.  “Okay, so that means the only one causing my, my defeat or dependency on that is . . . me.”

Smiling at him and winking, Granger turned to rinse out his coffee mug.  He heard the back door quietly snick shut, a sign the young deputy sheriff was deep in thought.  He was like Granger in that way; he was unusually quiet when thinking or pondering.

Setting the coffee mug upside-down on the kitchen towel to drain, Granger took his Bible over and laid it back on the table.  Guess I’d better check how that glue’s setting up on my shoe, he thought.

© D. Dean Boone, August 2018

 

 

        

Categories: Common Sense, Encouragement, Inspirational | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, 8/11/18: THE THROWAWAY PEOPLE

The old woman in Room 9 of the geriatric ward of the small rural hospital had finally done the staff a favor and died.  When it was clear she’d never leave that room alive, her daughter and son-in-law drove in from out of town and quickly, dispassionately sifted through her accumulated junk.  It was what was left of 90+ years of life.  Those trinkets and broken this-or-that meant something to her.  Its only value to them was how much could be recycled, so they wouldn’t have to pay so much to throw it all away.

Each time she’d ask them what of hers they wanted, they’d gently tried to remind her:  “Mom, we’re not sure how to tell you this, but all this stuff that has such meaning to you?  We won’t want it, and I can guarantee Jewell won’t.  Keeping parents’ stuff was a ‘thing’ when you were young.  It’s not now.  We’re not wanting to hurt your feelings, but we really don’t want this stuff.”

On the day they got the call her mom was terminally ill, Heather and Drake never blinked.  They drove straight to the lawyer’s office whom they’d retained to handle Eunice’s final affairs, signed the papers committing her to what passed for a nursing home, picked out a few things they thought might make the ugly, plain little room’s walls a little more palatable, and took them over to the hospital.

A grandson’s high school letter off his varsity jacket . . .  the birth announcement of Shelby, the old woman’s first great-granddaughter . . .  a ratty, fray-edged and obviously handsewn pillow she’d made, half from Stan’s favorite old work shirt, and half from the dress she wore when they were married . . .  the crudely-framed picture of the house Stan built in the evenings after work, which became their first home . . .  an old, wooden-handled three-tined table fork that was from the set she’d collected in boxes of laundry soap.  Stan gave her the house as a wedding gift; she gave him a full set of flatware and plates she’d collected and saved.

Eunice.  Her name was Eunice, and Heather was her daughter and had held power of attorney for her ever since her mind began its slow, inexorable tornado-like spiral down in to complete memory loss and total confusion.  She and Grant really didn’t want to be bothered with any of it, but they were closest.  Besides, though older, Jewell would do nothing but complain.  The lawyer’s name was Evans, and the young, preoccupied doctor who briskly came in, checked her vitals for the required amount of time, then pronounced her at 0438 was Shaunessey, Joe, O.D.

The hospital staff, especially housekeeping, didn’t care.  They just knew her as The Crabby Old Lady.  They needed to get in there, clean out her meager belongings and box ’em up for Heather and Grant – as if they wanted any of them – and prep it for the next crabby old man or woman.

They’d taken everything off the wall and picked up everything else, when one thought to look in the bed stand drawer.  There was an old Bible there, with what looked like a bookmark in it.

“Will you hurry up?  Lunch here would gag a yak at the best of times, but maybe if we get to the front of the line—”

The orderly standing and holding the Bible had just opened it, curious to see what The Crabby Old Lady had marked.  Slowly, he sat down.  It wasn’t a bookmark; it was a folded sheet of legal-sized paper.  The old woman had written on it, and her thoughts were profound enough that the staff typed it up, printed it off, and distributed copies to every nurse, RNA, and orderly in the hospital.  Here is what Eunice had written.

 

Crabby Old Woman

 

What do you see, nurses?   What do you see?

What are you thinking, When you’re looking at me?

 

A crabby old woman, not very wise,

Uncertain of her routine, with faraway eyes.

Who dribbles her food and makes no reply,

When you say in a loud voice, “Well, you could at least try!”

 

Who seems not to notice the things that you do,

And forever is losing a sock or a shoe

Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will,

With just bathing and feeding her long day to fill?

 

Is that what you’re thinking?  Is that what you see?

Then open your eyes, nurse, because you’re not looking at me.

I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,

As I mutely do your bidding and I eat at your will.

 

I’m a small child of ten with a father and mother,

And brothers and sisters who laugh and love one another.

 

I’m a young girl of sixteen with wings on her feet,

Dreaming that any time now, a lover she’ll meet.

 

A bride soon at twenty, my heart gives a leap,

Remembering the vows that I’ll promise to keep.

 

I’m twenty-five now, I have young of my own,

Who need me to guide them and make them a happy home.

 

I’m now a woman of thirty, my young now grown fast,

Bound to each other with ties I pray will last.

 

At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone,

But my man’s beside me, to hold me when I mourn.

 

I’m fifty, and once more babies play around my knee,

Again we know the giggles of children, my loved one and me.

 

Dark days are upon me now, for my husband is dead,

I look at the future, and I shudder with dread.

 

For my young are all rearing young of their own,

And I’m left to think of the years and loves that I’ve known.

 

I’m now an old woman, and nature is cruel,

To make me in old age look like a fool.

 

The body, it crumbles, and grace and vigor depart,

It feels like there’s now a stone, where I once had a heart.

 

But inside this old carcass, a young girl still dwells,

And now and again, my battered heart swells.

 

I remember the joys, and I remember the pain,

And inside here, I’m loving and reliving life all over again.

 

I’m thinking of the years, all too few, gone too fast,

And accepting the stark reality that nothing can last.

 

So open your eyes, people–please, open and see:

Not just a forgetful, crabby old woman; look closer – see ME!!

 

No one from the hospital staff were asked if they’d read the poem.  There were no dry eyes.  Even the self-important, preoccupied young doctor was sniffing and blowing his nose.

Normally a perfunctory, even distasteful task, the orderlies didn’t say much as they gathered up the old fitted sheet from Eunice’s last bed, loaded all the stuff to be thrown away in it, and made the trip out to the dumpster.  Where they usually just tossed the whole load in, throwing their sterile gloves in after it, this time they kind of laid it softly on top of the pile.

On top was a faded, embroidered purple letter ‘G’; a folded card of some kind; a kind of weird, mismatched, faded old pillow; an old metal-and-wood table fork with garden string tied through a hole in the handle; and on top of it all, an old, black-and-white picture of a small, homely old house that the frame had come off of while they were tossing it into the throwaway pile.

Leon and Rocco looked at the small pile that represented Eunice’s Earthly life for a minute, then made eye contact.  Leon said, “Hey, what about her Bible?”

     “I kept that.  I didn’t figure she’d mind, and those two kids of hers sure never acted like they’d want it.  ‘Sides, a few years back after I got out of the Corps, I threw mine into the nearest river.  I kinda figure this is God’s way of replacin’ it, and my way of sayin’, “I’m sorry” to Miss Eunice for not bein’ more pleasant when it woulda mattered.”

Leon was quiet for a few seconds as he held the hospital hallway door open.  “We see this stuff all the time, Rock.  What was different here?”

Rocco shrugged.  “I never knew my mom.  Don’t know who my gramma was.”  He shifted his head towards the dumpster.  “Miss Eunice’ll do.  Hey–d’you think she’d mind if I sorta rescued the picture o’ that old house?  She’s family, now, and it’s got some meaning attached to it.  She’d want me to have it, me bein’ her grandson an’ all.”

Leon smiled.  “I’ll go on in and start washin’ down the room.  Gotta have it nice and clean for our next grams or gramps.  But I don’t plan on doin’ it all by myself, hear?”

As the door closed, Rocco turned and the morning sun glistened off the big tears flowing down his cheeks, the first time he’d cried since rotating back from his third tour of duty in Afghanistan.  Groping in his scrubs pocket for his handkerchief, he muttered to himself, “Maybe I’ll just hang onto that old pillow, too.  There’s got to be a story, and–”  here he glanced up into the clear sundrenched sky– “Miss Eunice, if you wouldn’t mind, sometime let me know what that story is.  We’re family, now, and I’d like ta know.”

© D. Dean Boone, August 2018

 

 

Categories: Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

2nd Cup of Coffee, 7/30/18 – THE NOON-HOUR STYLE SHOW

It was lunch hour, and the four friends gathered as usual outside the Arlington Ave. exit, getting their favorite table where they could capture the breeze.  As they sat down, they automatically bowed their heads in a silent appreciation for jobs, food, and God’s grace.

The minute they began unwrapping their sandwiches, Fred leaned in, even though there were several empty tables between them and any others sitting out in the summer light.

“Guys, I—” He sighed, obviously troubled over something.  “I need you to agree with me in prayer over a major decision I need to make in the next couple of weeks.  I don’t feel I can say any more than that now.  But I really need you to pray with me.”

Glenn was almost comical because he was trying earnestly to talk past the half-mouthful of French dip he hadn’t yet swallowed.  “Muhwef thuih ri’ now.”  Dorrell didn’t say anything, but he nodded, reaching a big hand across the table to take Fred’s.  Washing the remnants of the tasty food down with some Diet Dr. Pepper, Glenn cleared his throat, reached across to put his hand over the other two, and said, “Absolutely.  Let’s pray while it’s fresh.”  Amari sat quietly, eyes focused on his friend, a muted tilaka on his forehead showing his Buddhist background prior to accepting Christ as his Savior.

All four men bowed their heads, as Dorrell’s rich baritone rumble began, “Father God, You’re the maker and sustainer of all things, Father God.  And right now, we just want to praise and just, well, just honor You, Father God, because You’re the Waymaker, the Chainbreaker, Fath—-”

Fred was saying little, he was so broken and emotional, nodding in silent agreement.

Glenn had been silent for about 10 seconds, then said, “God, Thy Spirit is all over this need of Fred’s, and Thou knowest all about it.  In fact, You, O Heavenly Father, knew ALL about this burden Brother Fred carries today long before he did.  Right now, we pray Thy matchless POWER over our dear brother, and Holy Spirit, we CLAIM Thy TOTAL VICTORY over this entire matter!  I call it DONE-uh in JEEE-sus name!   . . . KOO-nee-ai, SHUN-didee-ai; SHUN-duhlo-kobrrria-ma-RINdalosEEE-uh—–”

Amari sat in a studied, focused silence, dusky-hued hands together and touching his lips, rocking slightly as he envisioned his prayers rising like fragrant incense.

In Heaven, Gabe got up from his sprinter’s start position and turned in confusion.  “Hey, Boss?  They’re doing that—that THING again.  Uh . . .”  His impossibly-buffed forearm flexed as he kind of flopped his hand.

A lot of things amuse God, but none more than the praying styles of His kids – and the interesting conversations in Celestial Central.  He turned, and Gabe could see He could barely keep His composure.  The impossibly-imposing angel patiently waited, having a real hard time keeping the grin off his own face.  How do you watch God laugh and NOT join in?

“Really?  Seriously, Lord, this is a big deal to Fred.  I mean, we’ve been knowin’ about it all along, just waiting for him to ask.  What’n the Universe are we s’posed to do with all that, that fluff?  I know they’re all serious.”

Though conversational in tone, God’s Voice carried all across the Universe.  That always signals a teaching moment, and God’s teaching moments are times for which the word, “AWESOME” was invented.

“Weed through all the underbrush, assess Fred’s concern and what he’s really asking for, and consider the very real love and concern of Glenn, Dorrell, and Amari.  Add their combined faith, subtract the fluff, and get to answering.”

“But—-”

“Gabriel, the rest of that doesn’t matter.  They quite often use those things either to prove to one another how spiritually mature they are, or they’ve gotten used to a certain rhythm to their public praying, or they’re relying on patterns of talking to Me they learned as kids, and they’ve never stopped to really listen to themselves.  If any of their own kids ever asked things of them like those four are asking of Me, the dads would be as puzzled as you are.  Either way, none of that ultimately matters to Me.  Each man prays according to patterns he was taught and is comfortable with.  Overlook the difference in style and see their agreement before Me.  Therein lies the power.  Remember the rule?”

Gabe nodded.  “If any two or three of you agree—”

God nodded.  “You got it.  Don’t let the fluff distract you.  Deal with the core need.  Now—GO.”

 

Quicker than thought, the huge, stunning presence of mighty Gabriel deployed, instantly responding to not just Fred’s willingness to ask for his friends’ help – but also to their caring willingness to help shoulder their friend’s need.

 

As they were gathering up their wrappers and empty cups, Fred paused.  “Guys?  I can’t explain it, but I just now got a real peace inside that God’s taking care of the whole thing!”  He bumped elbows with his three friends as they headed toward the nearest garbage bin.

Something told him the afternoon’s work was going to go a lot smoother for them all.

© D. Dean Boone, August 2018

 

Categories: Common Sense, Humor - Lighten Up, Inspirational, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

CHANGES TO 2nd CUP: ~ COMING 8/1/18

Hey, friends:  here’s the word from Facebook and WordPress:

 

“Your website’s connection to Facebook is changing soon

Starting August 1, 2018, third-party tools can no longer share posts automatically to Facebook Profiles. This includes Publicize, the Jetpack tool that connects your site to major social media platforms (like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook).”

So, here’s the deal.  I’m trying to figure out their meandering directions to keep my blog posts coming to my FB page, “2nd Cup of Coffee”.  I’m not talking about my personal FB page, but the one where I’m standing by The Snake, in an old USAF flight suit, in front of the flag, titled 2nd Cup of Coffee.  If you haven’t ‘Liked’ it yet, please do – IF you find value in my 2nd Cup articles.  And if you’re new to 2nd Cup posts, take some time to check out some of the past ones.  You must might find something there to lift, edify, empower and encourage you.  And, nope, you don’t even have to like coffee.

The second thing you can do is recognize my 2nd Cup website, “http://2ndcupofcoffee.com”.  When you go there, you have access to all my archived posts from 2013 until now.  Then too, the more you go to my website, the higher on the food chain it rises, making it even easier to find.

Either way, be patient as I sort out what, exactly, has happened to this thus-far workable partnership between Facebook and WordPress.

I’ll do my best to keep the good stuff coming!  Just remember–if I have to “post” to regular FB, having any pictures is iffy at best.

Thanks, readers, for being so loyal and offering your feedback.

Loving you,

Dan

Categories: Common Sense, Information, Inspirational | Tags: , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, 7/23/18: PARENTS’ GROWING PAINS

The two men gratefully sank into the commuter train’s seats after a long day in the city.  Andrews asked the other, “Your son go back to college yet?”

Image result for dutch bros travel mug

“Two days ago.  Yours?”  Jennerson nodded.

“Mm-hmm.  Senior this year, so it’s almost over.  Thank God, in May Shawn’ll be an engineer.  I still wonder how long it’ll be before the pockets of my slacks ever go back to their shape before his hands were in them all the time, too.”   He paused to take a sip out of his Dutch Bros. travel mug he’d picked up from somewhere out West at a conference last year.  “What’s your boy going to be when he gets out of college?”

“Jarvis?  At the rate he’s going, I’d say he’ll be about thirty.”  His companion about spewed coffee into his lap, laughing.  He settled down, then asked,

“No, I mean what’s he taking.”

“Every dollar I make.”  The other guy’s humor snicked shut like an SLR lens.

“Doesn’t he burn the ol’ midnight oil enough?”

“Kidding, right?  He never gets home early though to know what midnight oil is.”  If a voice could be called threadbare, this dad’s sure qualified.  Even his sarcasm seemed as though on a time delay.

“Well, has sending him to college done anything at all for him?”

“Certainly has!  It’s totally cured his mother of bragging about him!”

His friend sat slack-jawed and stared at him for a moment, for he knew moms are the LAST ones to not brag on their perfect little darlings, even if 47 years old.

“So—-”

“I’ve already been having coffee with the local Marine recruiter.  Whether he drops out, gets kicked out, or by some amazing miracle of God manages to graduate, we’re driving straight there immediately thereafter.  I’ve finally admitted to myself that, as nice as it is to still have one of our kids at home, we’ve not done him any favors.”

“Well, he does need to do some growing up!”

“So do we, Charles.  So do we.”

 

© D. Dean Boone, July 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Common Sense, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Quiet Time Musings, 7/17/18: MANIPULATION IS NOT LEADERSHIP

When small men cast big shadows, it’s a sign the sun is setting.

I remember as a boy going to my aunt’s house in Echo, Oregon to watch The Wizard of Oz.  It was an annual thing, almost like a family reunion, only without the multi-whiskered wart and the “Oooh, coomew an’ give Auntie a boog koos!”  Yeesh.  There must be an aunt’s union or something, because it was always Aunt Margie or Ruby who’d be standing there, duck-lipped and arms reaching.  

Why is it always the, ah, fluffy and less-than-adorable ones who do that?  I’m sure my eyerolls were audible, #gagmewithagardentrowel.  And how can parents be so complicit?  “Oh, stop being silly and go give your aunties a kiss.”  Okay, I will confess there were one or two bipeds of the feminine-girl-type persuasion from whom I’d cheerfully have received such therapy.  None was named Margie or Ruby.  Just no. 

Aunt Juanita Galligan was attractive, slim, and looked great for being approximately 1,730 years old.  I don’t think she ever paid her Auntie’s Union dues, for she never treated me like the other two.  I never saw her unkempt; even when recovering from losing a big toe because of diabetes, Aunt Juanita never went without makeup or her hair fixed up.  Uncle Tad was cool.  He was tall and quiet.  He had a presence about him, and I liked being around him.  He was in the Navy, though, and his career field had him stationed for 1 or 2 years at a time in places like Adak, Alaska.

In his absence, I think she appreciated the company, even if it was from her young nephew.  Any spouse of a service member who makes frequent isolated remote tours can tell you:  it gets old.  Having some company around once in awhile – any company – is welcome.

A few of you know me well enough you might guess which scene from The Wizard of Oz most stuck with me, long after I’d grown up and Aunt Juanita and Uncle Tad were dead.  For those who don’t, I’m going to get a refill of this wonderful medium-dark roast, Cameron’s Velvet Moon (Cue the ‘Final Jeopardy’ music, Alex) while you guess . . .

 

So–if you picked the scene that culminates with, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”, you win.  From the first time I saw it at around age 10, the lessons therein resonated in me.

They still do.  And the biggie?

Always suspect the words or actions of those who operate behind a façade of respectability, all the while pushing a private, hidden agenda.

As I grew, it soon became apparent such is found anywhere, including the Church. 

Now in my senior adultism, I find I’ve scant patience with those who believe their own plans are interchangeable with God’s plans.  That kind of activity always involves manipulating others’ lives, usually with a self-promoting end in sight that, if openly revealed, would never be tolerated.

In or out of Christian venues, anything that knowingly abuses and needlessly wounds another person does not, cannot please God.  Hanging with those who either do or support such is not on my bucket list.  That’s a joy-killer, and I aspire to as much authentic joy in my heart as I can muster.

Juanita Galligan was not a believer in any way we might recognize.  But she had a moral, practical code by which she lived, and which permeated her and Uncle Tad’s digs as much as the cigarette odors.  Aunt Juanita didn’t play cute word games.  Even though I was a pre-adolescent boy the first time I went to her house by myself, she spoke kindly but directly to me about cabbages and kings.

To the best of my knowledge, she never misled me by saying one thing on the surface while doing something else entirely different down where submarines operate.

Aunt Juanita was a straight shooter, a tough but real lady, and I looked forward to our going to her house because I always knew where I stood with her.  I knew I could trust her to always say, be, and do the right thing–even if it didn’t entirely please me.

I knew whenever I was at her house, I never had to worry about anybody behind the curtain, pulling levers or pushing buttons, and distracting me from what they were really trying to do.  It might’ve had something to do with both of them being career military people.

You know, I’m even more thankful – no, grateful – now for that lesson from The Wizard of Oz.  I tend to be a bit of a skeptic, perhaps even a cynic, now.  But I’m learning to discern earlier and earlier when there’s a Man Behind The Curtain.  And I’m now less bothered by the necessity to move on when I find there is one.

100% of the ones I’ve discovered think that hiding the truth, and their real agendas, while herding good people with sober, even noble words, constitutes leadership, making them king of the forest.

Nope.  That’s not leadership; that’s manipulation   True leadership calls for a servant’s heart – and for the courage to do and be the right thing whether popular or not.  It takes no courage to sneak quietly around behind the curtain, making people think you’re doing one thing when all the time you’re actually doing something quite different.

It’s what puts the ‘ape’ in apricot, right?

And courage is what it takes to man up, recognize when wrong has been done – or a little right’s been done in a terribly wrong way – and do one’s best to clean up the mess.  It may be moot at that point, because when egos, personal aggrandizement and self-absorption are the catalyst for having The Curtain up in the first place, massive damage is usually done, and done in a hurry.

And those having been The Man Behind The Curtain rarely wish to stick around long enough to face the music and make things right.  They usually abruptly disappear, or, worse yet, stay put and try to bluster and make excuses for the havoc they’ve wreaked.

That means it is likely time to move on.

Now, where, exactly, is the Yellow Brick Road?

© D. Dean Boone, July 2018

 

 

 

Categories: Common Sense, Inspirational, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup for 7/9/18: WE CALLED HER ‘JO’

Her given name was Joella Jane Boone.

She was a Boone in many telltale ways:  a lifelong learner holding two Master’s degrees in education yet whose greatest joy was teaching in the school classroom, and who loved to write on white- or blackboard in a lovely, effortless cursive; artistic to the point she could do nothing plainly; articulate and precise in her speech and grammar; and had a velvety, almost sultry alto voice she used in sacred solo, small ensemble and choral work her entire life.  There was nothing mannish in her.

It was no surprise she’d catch the eye of, and later marry, William Tromble, Ph.D., himself a musician, educator, and in later years active in university institutional advancement.

Jo was a Boone in the other necessary ways, too.  She knew how to kill and dress chickens and small game animals, how to grow and tend both flower and vegetable gardens, and how to milk and clean up after cows.  Jo was at home on forest trails, and our dad often found her tracking a deer or hunting blackberries by herself.  She built good fires, knew how to prepare meals over them, and how to properly extinguish them.  She knew how to tell relative time by the sun’s position, could wield an axe as well as most men, and was an accurate shot.

Jo and her two closest siblings were about twenty years older than I.  That means by the time I was born, they’d already been married and gone, and I was a preemie uncle by 3 months.  When I was born, my mom was 42 and was finished raising her family.  To add insult to exhaustion, I made my debut on Mother’s birthday.

Since both her siblings already had families, it was Jo who came to be with our mother prior to, during, and after my birth.  She spent so much time holding, cuddling, and feeding me, she said, that I’d cry whenever Mother took me from her.

Vintage Jo-isms:

  • “You were such a cute little guy with your coonskin cap.”  I was told by all I literally entered the world with a full head of hair.  You’ll understand if I don’t remember. 
  • “I wanted to take you home with me.  I mothered you more than Mom did.”  She told me this several times in later years, always with tears in her eyes and voice.  She was serious.
  • “I gave you your middle name.”  It seems there was a close family friend in those years named Dean.  Mom couldn’t decide on a middle name, so Jo said, ‘Why don’t we call him Daniel Dean?’  Dandy.  Alliteration from birth.

From my earliest memory, Jo always sent me cards, and always embellished inside with ink artistry of some kind.  Shading.  Perspective.  Something.  And always with a handwritten note folded and tucked inside in her stunning cursive.

After my freshman year of college I could find no suitable work in North Idaho and was exhausted by driving 60 miles daily into (and back from) Spokane, Washington to work and to computer programming school.  I held on for two reasons:  I hate not finishing something I’ve started, and Jo kept writing and encouraging me to keep going.

 

When the school folded, there was no incentive to keep making that drive.  That was when Jo suggested I come back to where they were in Kankakee, IL, and try there.  She said I could stay with them while hunting work.  At her suggestion, I auditioned for and locked in a spot and associated scholarships on the university’s main quartet – IF I could come up with the money for the sophomore year.  Once again, I did odd jobs, even painting Olivet Nazarene dorm rooms.  Alas, in ’71 and ’72, there were no good jobs available for those my age.

I’d had enough.  In June, I went down to the Air Force recruiter, chose a career, and enlisted under the delayed enlistment program.  Jo took me in until I shipped out in September of ’72.  All during my USAF years, and since that time, she never forgot to send her signature cards.  There was no doubt who’d sent them, for no one else I know had either patience or ability to make them pop like Jo.

It was from Jo that I picked up the habit of cleaning as I go.  Cooking.  Cleaning.  Mowing.  Weeding.  Writing.  That makes me a little slower, yes.  But there’s rarely any mess or empty stuff laying around for others to have to pick up after me.

My sister Jo was always very verbal, often wearily so.  She could wear a political strategist down with her word-gusts.  Yet buried within the lush bouquets of her verbiage, there were always-always-always words of personal encouragement, of assurance to me of her faith in God, and her support that I keep mine strong as well.

My big sister, Joella Jane Boone Tromble, is gone.  We received word Saturday of her passing.

They say grief is just love with no place to go.  They’re right.

After years of dealing with other patients, and other families’ grieving, I’m numb right now.  I didn’t expect to feel this way, for I never lived close enough to Jo and Bill to spend any time with them until those few months prior to serving in the Air Force.  I didn’t expect this deep, resonant, echoing emptiness.

It hurt when I lost my mother.

It’s hurting now that I’ve lost my other one.

I loved you, big sister.

Thank you.

© D. Dean Boone, July 2018.

 

Categories: Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments